Success for Lapid as support for Netanyahu's Likud falls

Yair Lapid (Photo: AP)

Yair Lapid (Photo: AP)

Israel's widely predicted swing to the right was not as dramatic as expected at Tuesday's elections.

The big winner as the Jewish state went to the polls was, according to initial announcements of the results, Yair Lapid's newly formed party, Yesh Atid (There is a Future), which captured 19 Knesset seats.

Mr Lapid, a former television presenter and well known journalist in Israel, was delighted to find his party in the position of the second largest in the Knesset.

Naftali Bennet, the right-wing leader of the Jewish Home party, who has made his support of settlements a key election issue, claimed 11 seats, far fewer than had been predicted.

Likud, the party led by Benjamin Netanyahu, in coalition with the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu remained the largest overall but its support fell from 42 seats to 31.

Labour, once the main player on Israel's political landscape, claimed 15 seats.

Mr Netanyahu is still expected to be the one who builds a coalition over the course of the coming six weeks, but it is now likely that he will need to work with Mr Lapid.

Last updated: 2:00pm, January 23 2013